Why should business companies engage in CSR?

In recent decades the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) turned out to be a vital strategy for companies to survive in a ruthless market environment. In a condition where market’s shift and customers’ preferences becomes more unpredictable and complex, adopting CSR strategy could be a powerful tool for survival. CSR-Asia defined Corporate Social Responsibility as a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis. Many companies all over the world are now starting to see the benefit of practicing CSR in their bottom lines. European countries are now seriously engaged in this concept on different levels and even in interpretation of how the concept works. The concept is quite ambiguous for some did not see its difference from corporate philanthropy. The latter is the most popular as it is easy to comprehend and implement. Other would try to adopt the concept but their involvement limited only to their core business. This is understandable, because it is easier for companies to formulate interventions on a concept they can easily understand and are cost-effective to them. Example, a food manufacturing company would normally prefer to implement interventions that are related to nutrition, and call this as their CSR project, but in reality is still very similar to corporate philanthropy. Despite the wide spectrum of approaches to CSR, there is a large consensus among practitioners on its main features. First, is that, CSR is behavior by business over and above legal requirements, voluntarily adopted because business deem it to be in their long-term interest. Second, CSR is intrinsically linked to the concept of sustainable development: businesses need to integrate the economic, social and environmental impact in their operations. Third, CSR is not an optional “add-on” to business core activities – but about the way in which business is managed. Following the above line, CSR could not be equated to Philanthropy. It is a complete business strategy that aims to ensure the long-term viability of the business, by assuming an active role in the development of the community, the economy, and the environment through good business practices. It is not different from being a “good citizen” of a country! CSR brings full load of benefits aside from “ego-trip” as others thought. I will tell you why. Today’s world has become smaller, and markets have become ever more accessible, thanks to globalization. Globalization however, would force many companies including small and the medium enterprises to adopt CSR in order to remain competitive locally

and in the international market. In some countries Government regulations such as environmental and social issues have increased, and standard and laws are also often set at a supranational level. An example of this is the European Union, where regulations and standards are applied to all member countries. Moreover, buyers in these countries would want to know that the product they buy did not come from companies and manufacturing processes that caused or even poses threat to the environment. They are also concerned with the company’s records - giving fair wages, good working conditions, and the like. These are highlighted in the media, which becomes a clear advantage to businesses with good CSR programs. During the past decade, consumers and communities have become sensitive to business practices of companies existing in their areas or from which they buy their goods and services. It has been observed that communities would prefer and are supportive of companies they see as concerned with the general welfare of the people in their business operation than the employment opportunities it generates. Achieving and maintaining industrial peace is also a direct consequence of a good CSR strategy. Another emerging concern nowadays that could easily be responded through good CSR, is the difficulty of companies in retaining highly skilled and competent personnel or luring them to work in your company. In recent years many human resource analysts noticed that the most competent and skilled workers would want to be associated with companies that have good business practices and reputation. This is the possible explanation why even large corporations whose reputation of being tax cheaters, involved in corruption, products and practices that are harmful to the environment, noninvolvement in responding to social issues and concerns, have hard time getting goodquality, or highly skilled employees. Companies with good business practices have clear advantages in convincing investors. Recent studies have shown that a growing number of investors would prefer companies with strong CSR programs. They see CSR involvement as an indication of the company’s long-term potentials. There is a growing perception among enterprises that sustainable business success and shareholder value cannot be achieved solely through maximizing short term profits, but instead through market-oriented yet responsible behavior.#
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